The Google Fortune Teller

The first Sherlock Holmes story I read (excluding the condensed for-kids versions) was The Hound of the Baskervilles. Revisiting my childhood reads, I was expecting to more closely examine the cause of my childhood awe and fascination with the detective mind, but was rather more surprised to find it missing.

Some pages later I (think I) located the cause. “We are coming now rather into the region of guesswork,” said Dr Mortimer. “Say, rather, into the region where we balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination, but we have always some material basis on which to start our speculation. Now, you would call it a guess, no doubt, but I am almost certain that this address has been written in a hotel.”

(The classic) Sherlock is an algorithmic/logical mind, primed to generate hypotheses from correlated observations, and famously bored by a lack of interesting cases. Probabilistically he was of course right, but it was more shocking to me that he was never wrong. Therein lies the power of fiction and the privilege of the author, to pick one’s battles and their resulting outcomes. But I do not intend here to take Conan Doyle down a notch, nor to mar the famous detective’s record—there are plenty other accounts to read for that. I bring this up because we have a real-world parallel, a chimeric Sherlock, who makes his own hypotheses, often invisibly. Continue reading The Google Fortune Teller

A.I. in Eve no Jikan

This post has been sitting in my WP Dashboard for almost a month now. Despite a dead graphics card and all sorts of WordPress brokenness in Google Chrome, here it finally is.

Eve no Jikan opens with a terse description of its futuristic scene of conflict:

In the future, probably Japan. / “Robots” have seen practical use for some time. / This is an era just after the widespread deployment of “Androids.”

Shortly after the title scene, the movie reveals itself to be an unabashed movie of the late 20th, early 21st century. Televisions still have their screens measured in vertical lines of resolution, the metric prefixed-byte remains a common unit of data storage, and Scandisk is still being used for filesystem maintenance. William Gibson, interviewed about the genre he writes, says “novels set in imaginary futures are necessarily about the moment in which they are written”. Eve certainly plays to the tune of this sentiment.

“What do you want of me, Blade Runner?”

“I am an android, not a human.”
“I am an android, not a human.”

Eve also pays its tributes to sci-fi movies that laid the road for it. Early in Act 2, Setoro chides “Blade Runner” (Masaki) for doing such a poor job of shadowing him. But this is no Blade Runner; the androids here aren’t pretending to be human; they have no need for disguise. While they may wear human skin, they are quite different functionally, and well aware of this even without the humans rubbing their noses in it. Nowhere is this clearer than at the end of Act 1, when Sammy, accused by Rikuo of “trying to be human”, points it out to him clearly: “I am an android, not a human.”

In this café, there is to be no discrimination between humans and robots.

So what exactly is up when we are first introduced to Café Time of Eve? Continue reading A.I. in Eve no Jikan